GE Foundation Business Summit Survey Finds Executives Support Stronger Education Standards

  • Survey results spur deeper conversations at Business and Education Summit
  • While most executives have seen jobs not filled because of skills gap, they are committed to fixing the problem through new English and math standards
  • Attendees say they are active with local solutions

ORLANDO, Fla.—July 23, 2013—GE Foundation is bringing together senior executives from some of America’s leading corporations to address their concerns about the skills gap in the workplace and what the local and state education system can do to address it.

In advance of its third annual Business and Education Summit, GE Foundation conducted a confidential survey of those who will be participating. Fifty-two executives responded to questions about new college and career-ready standards for English and math that aim to close the skills gap. The survey found:

  • 87% say the new standards are “mission critical” to American business; and
  • 64% say they have undertaken some efforts to support standards implementation.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the new standards that will be fully implemented in the 2014–15 school year.

Fifty-seven percent of the employers say that their organization has had some jobs not filled as a result of skills gap. Of those, a minority (25%) report they have had to hire abroad to deal with the problem.

The survey mirrors disappointing news recently released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (“The Nation’s Report Card”). NAEP’s long-term-trend assessments found that the average scores of 17-year-olds in both reading and mathematics haven’t improved since the early 1970s.

“Despite the challenges we know so well, the Business and Education Summit is a time to be optimistic about the future. Leaders in every community are telling us they are already rolling up their sleeves to continue to push for these new education standards that will make a big difference. We are proud to be a catalyst for bringing together 250 leaders this year from virtually every community in the country who want more college and career-ready students in their towns and cities,” says Robert L. Corcoran, President and Chairman, GE Foundation.

Attendees say they are supporting the new standards by holding workshops with community groups to explain the need, discussing and writing letters in support to local policymakers, and volunteering in classrooms where implementation is happening.

Companies represented at the Summit include 3M, Apple, Boeing, ExxonMobil, IBM, Microsoft and State Farm as well as local leaders active in Chambers of Commerce and business-education partnerships in all parts of the country.

The summit, being held July 22–23 in Orlando, Fla., includes remarks from former Governors Jim Hunt (North Carolina) and Bob Wise (West Virginia); Tony Bennett, Commissioner of Education, Florida Department of Education; Dennis Van Roekel, President, National Education Association; and David Coleman, President, College Board. James H. Shelton III, Acting Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, will also provide his analysis of the situation.

One focus of the discussions is the Next Generation Science Standards and how they can advance science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. In addition, executives will learn how they can adapt their existing education initiatives so they align with, and provide support for, college and career ready standards.

The Summit occurs during a time when other nations are outpacing the U.S. in education advancement. In order to learn from their success, the following experts will provide perspectives on the importance of having challenging academic standards: David Booth, Professor Emeritus and Scholar in Residence, University of Toronto and Bill Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University.

The Summit includes educators attending from districts where the GE Foundation has a history of providing support. GE Foundation’s Developing Futures in Education (www.gefoundation.com/developing-futures-in-education/) is active in communities where the company has a large presence—Atlanta; Erie, Penn.; Cincinnati; Jefferson County (Louisville), Ky.; Milwaukee; New York City; and Stamford, Conn.

Since its onset in 2005, the Developing Futures program has invested more than $200 million in these districts and its work at the local level informs its backing of higher college and career ready standards.

About the GE Foundation

The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of GE, works to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems. With its partners, the GE Foundation focuses its efforts in the areas of health, education, the environment and disaster relief. In 2012, the GE family invested more than $219 million to global community and educational needs. For more information, visit www.gefoundation.com.